Published in Dungarvan Leader Page 11 on Tuesday 3rd of August 2021
You probably know more Spanish than you realise
Loanwords are words adopted directly from a language into another without translation —although they may be adapted to local spelling and phonology—. As an international and highly adaptable language, English is littered with them and so you find kindergarten from German, ombudsman from Swedish, marmalade from Portuguese or amok from Malay. And if we venture into the fields of gastronomy, arts or music, Italian and French will almost overwhelm indigenous terminology.
If readers are thinking of taking up Spanish, they will be glad to realise that more of the language will be familiar to them than they might realise. Indeed, this linguistic phenomenon holds for Spanish also and the average Anglophone is liable to utilise, unwittingly or otherwise, an array of Spanish terms in his everyday speech.
People might bid farewell to their amigos (friends) with an emotional adios (good-bye, literally "to God") after they have had some vino (wine) in a bodega (wineshop), probably located on a plaza (square). The sunny weather that we enjoyed last month may very well have led Dungarvaners to have a siesta (nap) out on the patio (yard) or go to the playa (beach) donning a sombrero (hat, although adopted by English speakers for the Mexican variety). Young lads might fancy themselves very macho (male) and with a lot of cojones (this loanword meaning both "testicles" and "valour" seems to be used rather gratuitously by English speakers, but prudency is advised if used in Spanish as it carries vulgar connotations), whereas the older folks might think these lads are a bit loco (mad).
Spanish maritime power over the past centuries expectedly left us some terms in this field like galleon (from galeón: large three-mast sailing ship), stevedore (from estibador: person loading and unloading ships), embargo (commercial restraint imposed on a country), flotilla (diminutive of flota: fleet) or doubloon (from doblón: former gold coin). As her power waned, Spain found herself having to resort to guerrilla (diminutive of guerra: war) warfare to counteract the might of the French Napoleonic Army in the Peninsular War.
Renowned Spanish cuisine has been one of the main sources of loanwords and any gourmet worth his salt knows his way around chorizo (spicy pork sausage), churros (sweet dough fritters) or paella (rice dish), perhaps seasoned with some tasty salsa (sauce) or oregano (wild marjoram).
And if our lingo is rife with Spanish loanwords, their incidence is multiplied in American English. In Westerns, we can often hear stories of buckaroos (from vaquero: cow-boy) using their lassos (from lazo: noose) in the corral (cattle
pen) or hombres (men) chasing some desperado (outlaw) along the canyon (from cañón: gorge) to throw him in the calaboose (from calabozo: dungeon).
Presence of Spanish loanwords is only due to increase, on account of the burgeoning importance of this language. But fret not; do embrace them, own them and use them liberally for, unlike the EU, we will not ask for them back with interest.
Here is your weekly dose of Spanish: Find them in the text before mañana [tomorrow]
Sergio Fernández Redondo
Sergio hails from Asturias in northern Spain and has recently relocated to Dungarvan, where he is a PR assistant and Spanish Teacher at Spaniology. Having an eclectic background in engineering, translation and linguistics, he is also a keen aficionado of history and languages.
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